Pat White enters his second season facing a lot of questions.

Opinion: Ease Off Pat White

It seems like a professional athlete gives up certain liberties as soon they sign a big deal. As fans we’re willing to let them handle things like a death in the family or an illness, and we generally will put up with the random injury (as long as it doesn’t become a trend). But personal issues? ‘He makes too much money to miss any time because of THAT.’

There seems to be a double standard that exists in what we’ll tolerate from someone we know and from a professional athlete. I’m guilty of it too, we’re generally much more sympathetic to someone facing a personal issue if they’re on our social level, but if a professional athlete ends up going through nearly the same thing, it’s a lot tougher to give them the same benefit of the doubt.

Pat White is the latest athlete (hell, latest Dolphin) to be facing “personal issues.” Already not widely-popular in Miami for reasons that are not entirely in his control, whether or not White’s “personal issues” are over or not, his reputation stands to take even more of a hit as he sorts through everything, fair or not. Maybe it’s worth getting off Pat’s back a bit though.

It seems like a lot of athletes come to Miami to “find themselves.” Demetrius Underwood comes to mind, Manny Wright too. Perhaps the most famous is Ricky Williams whose jersey was burned when he announced an abrupt retirement just days before the start of the 2004 season. Williams timing was what bore a considerable amount of that anger, but his journey to find his own sense of identity was mocked in many circles and reduced to a “pot-smoking hiatus.” Ricky was pushed to the brink mentally and physically and questioned what he really wanted to do with his life. It took him a while to sort it all out. Recently Ricky’s documentary (but honestly, and sadly, probably just as much so his on-field production) have given Dolphins fans a new appreciation for athlete’s facing personal issues and life questions. Now let’s apply that to Pat White.

I don’t know what was troubling Pat White that caused him to miss the start of camp. I can kind of infer from reading comments his brother made earlier in the week and comments he made on Twitter during the off-season, that he seems to be facing a bit of an identity crisis. All things considered I think that’s pretty reasonable.

Think about it, Pat White has probably never faced an athletic setback in his entire life. He’s naturally about as athletically gifted as one can be. I’m not even speaking in a football sense, I mean in a general sense. There are a lot of things athletically that Pat White can do that none of the other Dolphins really could. When he was 18, White turned down a career with the Angels and good money to pursue football in college. He had huge success in college too. He and West Virginia drubbed Georgia in a Sugar Bowl game in his freshman finale, it was his coming out party.

I know more than a few of you remember that game and watching White with Steve Slaton, and going “wow.” White had a great collegiate career, he’s probably the best WVU QB of all time. He’s got the best bowl record of any college quarterback at 4-0 with two BCS victories. He was “The Guy” at West Virginia.

Then he gets picked by Miami, and receives a mixed reception as some fans immediately feel like his was a poor draft choice. Remember, Pat Whit may not be used to much criticism, it’s not like he heard much at WVU (when he was winning his first year on) or in high school (when he was receiving scholarships and getting drafted by the Angels). Then he gets stuck behind a franchise-QB in the making, relegated to a small part of one package and in the only real action of his first season he gets carted off the field in a stretcher courtesy of Ike Taylor.

That didn’t exactly send Dolphins fans clamoring for more, White lost even more fan support over the off-season, and the guy who probably shielded White from the majority of the criticism for being a wasted pick was just shipped to San Francisco. Face it, in Miami we love to hate our high-round misses. Eddie Moore was more reviled than any second rounder should ever be. I still can’t stand Jamar Fletcher over Drew Brees (the first Brees miss).

Then consider White enters the season presumably 4th amongst 4 quarterbacks, potentially even standing to be cut. The Fins don’t exactly have many openings to play receiver right now. Can you really blame a young man who has never been faced with an athletic setback, suddenly finding himself in this situation and beginning to wonder if maybe he had made the wrong choice or if there was something else he should be doing.

Isn’t that natural? Every single person has at some point stopped mid-gait on their way into work, looked up and questioned everything. If not that dramatic you’ve at least had second thoughts. Just because you make a lot of money or were a second round pick doesn’t mean you don’t still face those issues and don’t deserve a lot of the same benefit we give to anyone else in those predicaments in society.

White is in camp now, he claims its behind him. Whatever it was. And let’s hope it is, but even if it’s not let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. In many regards Ricky Williams can offer Pat White quite a bit in the way of counsel. As an athlete whose navigated through quite a bit on his path, Williams also once faced a choice between professional baseball and football. Maybe Ricky already is mentoring the young man to a degree. He’s certainly taken notice, opining recently that White was the Dolphin’s most improved player over the course of the last off-season.

Regardless, maybe Dolphins fans should consider being more patient and supportive with Pat White. I, for one, still think he can have a successful professional career. Whether that’s at quarterback, receiver or playing baseball, he’s too talented not to be successful. But in the meantime, give the kid a break. There are a lot worse things to be, than uncertain about your life.

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  • J pat

    I, with sons Pat’s age, applaud this column. It’s hard enough being a young man without the spot light, but to be in White’s place, I can only imagine the pressure he feels to succeed.

    I watched Pat White at WVU and given a chance he will give the Dolphins everything he has. Let’s just hope that is enough to satisfy today’s impatient fans.

  • Chad Starkey

    This is a great piece. We often forget that athletes are also humans with the same frailties as the rest of it. He is also a model citizen and a kind person (remember his gesture with the veterans before the NE game?).

    Mr. White is a proven winner. Be it in Miami or elsewhere, I wish him all the luck. I also thank Patrik Nohe for his voice of sanity on this issue.

  • 2madison9

    Thank you for this article, Pat.

  • Ripp

    I said it before, Pat White was set up for failure. Its not that he is a bust, its just very difficult for a rookie QB to enter the league receiving only 10% of the snaps in practice because you are the 3rd string QB then you are expected to go out for three plays a game and execute the play to perfection. That would be hard on any QB. I really don’t see why fans have a hard time understanding his position.

  • JRomer

    Great article Pat. I actually wasn’t opposed to the White pick at first, i was a big fan of him from his WVU years. When he came in during the year, I just kept hoping he would pull another explosive lay down the field. But now with the QB situation, the proven vet (Pennington) and the better quarterback (Thigpen) are likely to get the nod as backups over the athletic White. I feel bad for him, knowing that the QB spot is taken by Henne, and he could’ve been a high baseball draft pick. Then again, a similar thing happen to Vince Young, and he’s been pretty good since…

  • Spread Offense

    Great to see an article supporting the guy, since people forget he had possibly the most explosive run from scrimmage of the entire Dolphin season last year, a 33 yard run in the first New England game. Give the guy a chance, he’ll produce – he’s too explosive not to…

  • jeremy

    You can be too nice in this modern world. You can make everyone a winner in elementary school. This is the NFL!!! Pat White probably is not an NFL level QB. He`s probably not a CFL lever QB. I refuse to bite my young on his talent. He1s the biggest miss the Trifecta has made.

  • McKinley

    Great article. Give the kid a break. He missed one flipping practice and suddenly the world is coming to an end. White has alot of talent but he did not come out of a pro system like Henne and Pennington did (why did Michigan change to the spread??).

  • Patrik Nohe

    McKinley, Michigan changed to the spread because Pat White’s old coach, Rich Rodriguez, left WVU and brought the spread to Michigan… Not a good call IMO.

  • Jim (

    Excellent article! Needless to say, it’s disheartening to see Pat White going through this, but, I’ve always supported him and will continue to do so. Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer.

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to feature this article on my Fansided blog ( later on this week.

    Meanwhile, the Broncos fan in me says, “YOU’RE WELCOME! for Brandon Marshall.”

  • Kris Malena

    You put it best when you referred to him as being a kid. He is one year out of college and still young. If there ever is an athletic contest that features Pat White against anybody I will always pick Pat. He is not only an athlete but a winner.

  • David

    Pat had 5 passes over an entire season; not exactly something that let’s one get used to the defense he’s against He never got first string reps in practice so he had a disadvantage there too. He took a knee a few times which I believe counted against his rushing; 21 rushes for 81 yards. If you thow out taking a knee three times for negative yardage he may of been 18 for 85 yards or a 4.7 yard per carry. His injury was a helment to helment because he was tripped from behind as he was going out of bounds. It had nothing to do with his size; anyone would have gotten a concussion.